Republican Club hosts four candidates

Published 8:17 pm Friday, May 24, 2013

ELECTION CENTRAL: Republican candidates for Beaufort County Sheriff (left to right) Harry Meredith Jr., Ernie Coleman, Rick Guthrie and Donald Dixon.

ELECTION CENTRAL: Republican candidates for Beaufort County Sheriff (left to right) Harry Meredith Jr., Ernie Coleman, Rick Guthrie and Donald Dixon.


Republican candidates running for sheriff met at the Beaufort County Republican Club meeting Thursday night to officially introduce themselves.

“I don’t know if we’ve ever had a Republican sheriff in Beaufort County,” said Beaufort County Commissioner Al Klemm as he introduced the four candidates. “This is one of the most important elections in Beaufort County and each of the candidates gets their first opportunity to speak to you. I know things will competitive as this goes on.”

Harry Meredith Jr., Ernie Coleman, Rick Guthrie and Donald Dixon each took a few moments at the podium to describe their relevant experience and how they would fulfill their duties as the highest law enforcement official in Beaufort County.

After Klemm and Larry Britt pulled names randomly from a bowl to determine the order in which candidates spoke, Coleman took the podium.

A retired Sergeant with the North Carolina State Highway Patrol and current police officer and law enforcement instructor at Beaufort County Community College, Coleman stressed his long membership with the Republican party (since he was 18) and that his faith will lead his campaign and term as sheriff.

“What you see is what you get — I am what am,” Coleman said as he described his 31-year law enforcement career, a tally of over 2,000 accident investigations and over 3,000 arrests and his role as deacon at Old Ford Church of Christ.

Rick Guthrie, former U.S. Marine and police chief of Scotland Neck, got his start in the law enforcement in military police and Lenoir County Department of Corrections. He went on to serve on task forces throughout the state.

Guthrie stressed his work in previous roles straddling the divide between law enforcement and those it serves.

“I will take all this knowledge to bring the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office and the community together,” Guthrie said. “My way of leadership is to be with my people. I’ll be out in the streets with my deputies. I’ll hand out cards with my phone number on them.”

Retired sheriff’s office Chief Deputy Harry Meredith Jr. described his career in law enforcement to the audience — the commendations he’s received from the state and how working homicides, rapes and kidnappings for many years shaped his experience.

“In one night in Durham, I answered more calls than deputies here do in a month and a half,” Meredith said, adding that those years in Durham, as well as his tenure with the sheriff’s office, give him insight into the role of Beaufort County’s sheriff.

Donald Dixon, private investigator and owner of East Coast Heating and Air Conditioning, said his experience as a small business owner would aid him in the administrative role of sheriff.

“No other candidate has run their own company — they’ve gotten a state check. I know the value of a dollar,” Dixon said, adding that his prior campaigns for sheriff give him perspective on running for the office.

As the candidates’ introductions wrapped up, Klemm informed the audience, “One of these gentlemen will win the primary and will be the next Republican sheriff.”

On the Democratic ticket, in the running are Chocowinity Police Chief Todd Alligood, Capt. Russell Davenport with sheriff’s office, Juvenile court counselor Al Whitney and retired law enforcement officer Valiant Scales.